How Garrido Was Freed By “Old Fashioned” Parole System


Phillip Garrido, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Jaycee Lee Dugard, was paroled by the federal government two decades ago after a 35-minute jailhouse interview in which he spoke of his crime, his prison experience, and future plans, the U.S. Parole Commission told the Los Angeles Times. Garrido, charged with abducting Dugard 18 years ago, was released from federal custody after serving only 10 1/2 years of his 50-year sentence for a 1976 kidnapping. Cranston Mitchell, vice chairman of the commission, said two examiners met with Garrido; neither the prosecutor nor Garrido’s attorney attended, and the examiners may not have seen psychiatric reports on Garrido;; they may not have reviewed Garrido’s trial record, Mitchell said. Transcripts would have showed Garrido said he had exposed himself to young girls and masturbated outside schools.

A numerical formula used to determine an inmate’s suitability for parole indicated Garrido should be released, Mitchell said. That formula included scores for such factors as obtaining a high school diploma and the inmate’s age when first imprisoned. Federal parole was abolished in 1987, but the termination did not affect inmates already serving sentences. The handling of Garrido was typical of the “old-fashioned parole system” that was overhauled by Congress in 1984, when sentences became longer and mandatory, with little judicial discretion, said Stanford Law Prof. Robert Weisberg. Under today’s laws, Garrido probably would have served 20 to 40 years, Weisberg said. Today’s parole boards also have more sophisticated ways to measure an inmate’s risk to the public, he said.

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